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UC Berkeley forum to discuss future of public universities

Get involved in the future of UC.

UC Berkeley’s academic deans invite you to a campus forum, the Future of Public Universities, to be held Tuesday, Oct. 25, 12 to 2 p.m., at Pauley Ballroom on the Berkeley campus. OP staff is welcome to attend.

The forum will focus on social inequality and social opportunity and feature Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink; Robert Reich, secretary of labor under former President Clinton and a UC Berkeley public policy professor; and former journalist Peter Schrag, who is a visiting scholar to the campus’s Institute for Governmental Studies.

You can submit questions during the event or online before or after the event. Three more public conversations are scheduled later this academic year on different topics, including taxation and citizenship, the economics of higher education and the public character of public universities.

Here’s what UC Berkeley’s academic deans have to say about the forum:

Our campus is at a definitional moment in its history. In the past few years, Berkeley, the University of California, and public universities nationwide have experienced a massive disinvestment in public higher education that calls into question the very notion of these universities as public institutions. By 2012 state funding for UC Berkeley will constitute a mere 12 percent of our operating budget. At the same time, an increasing body of scholarship and public conversation has challenged the economic and civic value of higher education itself, even as a source of economic and social opportunity for private individuals. In what sense, then, can this institution still be understood as a “public” institution and a “public good”? The deans of Berkeley’s colleges and professional schools believe it is imperative for academic leaders and public intellectuals to join together to meet the challenge: to define our character, our mission and our contributions to public life.

As the premier public university in the world, UC Berkeley has a special responsibility and is uniquely qualified to lead the way. We must respond by doing what Berkeley does best: mobilize research expertise, invite informed debate and facilitate the exchange of knowledge about the constraints and opportunities ahead for the University of California and public universities nationwide. To this end, Berkeley’s academic deans are organizing a series of public conversations on the four core challenges we face as a campus and as a community. On multiple fronts and through a variety of media sources, these conversations will bring together scholars, community organizers, business leaders and politicians to engage in a dialogue with students, faculty, staff and the campus community at large about the issues most urgently relevant to the future of our university. Through this initiative we hope not only to understand the extent of our challenges but also to discover the best means to chart our path forward. We invite you to join us in defining our future.

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